Senior turned to computer fraud to get a discount on her eggs.

Bit by bit, self-checkout systems have been popping up in Japanese conveniences stores and supermarkets over the past few years. With these developments, some have worried whether the rapidly aging population here would be able to adapt to the new technology.

However, it seems some have adapted to them so well that they’ve used it to enter a life of electronic crime. This was the case for one unidentified 83-year-old resident of Kainan City, Wakayama Prefecture, who now faces charges of computer fraud.

When self-checkouts were installed in her local supermarket, the savvy shopper noticed that it scanned the half-price sticker on her item and automatically deducted the price. Realizing that the sticker alone was the key to making that particular scanner give her a 50-percent discount, she simply peeled one off another product and stuck it onto something else she was going to buy.

These little round red and yellow stickers are convenient ways to quickly discount items nearing their expiry

The thrill of cybercrime took hold of her, and she did it again and again on future visits to the supermarket. However, on 4 December at approximately 6:50 p.m., she was pulling off her most daring heist yet, affixing a half-off sticker to a carton of eggs valued at 246 yen (US$2.36), when suddenly a security guard apprehended her at the checkout.

Unbeknownst to her, the manager of this supermarket was very thorough with checking the sales records and noticed that items were being sold at discount which shouldn’t have been. By the time she was ready to pull the egg job, he had already stationed guards to monitor the self-checkouts and catch anyone in the act.

▼ Some supermarkets put barcodes directly on their stickers to prevent such fraud

After being turned over to the police, the woman admitted to her crimes both past and present that totaled three incidents which, based on her most recent caper, must have resulted in upwards of 500 yen ($4.80) in damages. On 6 December, she was released on her own recognizance and currently awaits formal charges to be pressed against her.

Readers of the news condemned her actions, but also couldn’t help but be impressed with her ingenuity.

“Seriously?! Those stickers work no matter what barcode they’re used with.”
“83-years-old? Pretty late to go bad. She probably wasn’t poor either, just wanted the discounts.”
“I never even knew those stickers worked at self-checkouts.”
“You can use those stickers at self-checkouts?! I’m always embarrassed when the clerk announces it.”
“She’s pretty smart.”
“Computer fraud…at 83…”
“Who knew you could put half-off stickers on whatever you want?”

Of course, as this woman found the hard way, being able to put stickers on whatever item you want doesn’t mean you should do it. Considering her age, the small monetary damage, and the fact that she cooperated with the authorities, she’s probably looking at a suspended sentence wherein she must keep her distance from self-checkouts.

However, if things continue as they are, that might be a big inconvenience in the near future.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun
Photos ©SoraNews24
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